Intangible Heritage and Social Change: A Romanian Example

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In this article we shall emphasize the nature of intangible heritage of a rural ritual based on a case study from a village located in the East of Romania. The ritual considered here is a sitting down event – a cultural form frequently practised in the respective community seven decades ago. This ritual is revived by the villagers with the support of the County Center for the Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture Iași and of the Local Mayor’s Office, by the active involvement of the local leaders. The thesis of this article is that in the practice of intangible heritage there are also other motivations apart from the remuneration incentive which should mobilize the members of a community to act together in view of the promotion of their intangible heritage. We will also argue that the criterion of authenticity of the ritual is fulfilled as long as this form of intangible heritage of the rural communities from today’s territory of Romania is reconstructed based on the representation from the collective memory of the community and is revitalized by the active involvement of a group of villagers from the locality. This assertion remains valid even when it is about a ritual which was no longer practiced in that community for almost seven decades. Thus, the practice of the respective ritual comes in agreement with the ideas stipulated in the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which underlies “the importance of the intangible cultural heritage as a mainspring of cultural diversity” and its important role in “enriching cultural diversity and human creativity.”

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